An artfully written series of essays in which free-lance writer/photographer Camuto (Sierra, Trout, etc.) weaves a seamless collage of fly-fishing, natural history, and American history through his observations of the Blue Ridge mountains. Camuto's descriptions of trout, fishing, and trout flies are vivid and should appeal to fishing beginners and experts and nonfishermen alike. For example, his description of tying flies doubles as a lyric metaphor for and mimesis of spring in the Appalachians. Camuto is a fine natural historian, and his nondidactic discussion of the area's native flowers, trees, and geology from the Ice Age to the present is reason enough to enjoy his book. An imagined conversation with early 18th-century naturalist John Bartram--who explored the Blue Ridge when the Cherokee Indians, elk, and catamounts were still present--is fascinating. However, Camuto makes it clear that all is not paradisaical in this mountain Eden. He discusses the 1964 Wilderness Act, which saved the area from timbering mining, and railroads, only to have it undergo continued destruction by airborne sulfur emissions; in a cogent description of the acid rain disaster, he notes how the Reagan Administration attempted to suppress the 1981 Academy of Sciences Report on widespread damage to the aquatic ecosystem; and he shows how the 1984 Virginia Wilderness Bill was a Trojan horse that created 56,000 acres of wilderness, but released back to the Forest Service 157,000 acres for ""mixed-use management"" (read: road building and logging for profit). Just as Thoreau addressed more than simply building a cabin in the woods, here Camuto casts with a sure hand beyond fly-fishing into deeper, more profound literary pools.